House Committee Focuses on Public Health with Increased Tobacco Tax, Greater Access to Affordable Health Care
The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote today on legislation that if enacted would greatly improve public health.
JACKSON, MS – February 26, 2021 – Mississippi health advocate groups are calling on the State Senate to amend House Bill 1439 to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. Currently, the bill calls for a low $.50 per pack cigarette tax increase and 10% of wholesale price increase on other tobacco products. The bill was passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives on Tuesday.
A $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase would decrease youth smoking by approximately 14.5%, encourage more than 19,300 current adult smokers to quit the deadly addiction and save almost 7,400 Mississippi residents from premature death due to the effects of smoking. Such an increase would also save Mississippi $584.53 million in long-term health care costs from declines in adult and youth smoking.
“The primary goal of raising Mississippi’s cigarette tax is to lower smoking rates and improve the health of our state,” said Ashley Lyerly, advocacy director for the American Lung Association in Mississippi. “A 50-cent increase will generate little to no health benefits. Significantly increasing the price of tobacco products has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among kids. To save lives, we are calling on the Mississippi Senate to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with a parallel increase on other tobacco products.”
“Smoking rates among adults and youth in Mississippi remain among the highest in the nation,” noted Kimberly Hughes, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Mississippi. “Only by enacting an increase of $1.50 per pack of cigarettes paralleled with a tax increase on all other tobacco products can we see a real change in Mississippi that effectively meets the severity of today’s youth tobacco epidemic. We cannot allow the health of Mississippians – particularly our children – to continue to suffer at the hands of Big Tobacco.”
“One of the proven methods for reducing tobacco usage, especially among youth, is to increase the excise tax on tobacco products. We owe it to the health and wellness of all Mississippians and future generations to work towards a healthier citizenry, and we look forward to working with the Mississippi legislature on this important issue,” said Rhonda Shirley, government relations director for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.
Currently, Mississippi taxes cigarettes at $.68 per pack, which is significantly below the national state average of $1.88 per pack. A $1.50 per pack increase is estimated to generate $142.23 million of new reliable revenue over the first year of the policy’s enactment.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is the leading advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. Through strategic communications and policy advocacy campaigns, we promote the adoption of proven solutions that are most effective at reducing tobacco use and save the most lives. For more information, visit tobaccofreekids.org.
About The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi
The mission of The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi is to provide educational information and awareness about the impact of tobacco on Mississippi and to improve the culture of health in Mississippi by applying lessons learned in tobacco prevention to other leading causes of death and disease impacting our State and Nation.